Photo Credit: Dave Sandford

Edmonton Oilers fire Peter Chiarelli

After a disastrous loss to the Detroit Red Wings made it three straight stinkers for the Oilers, ownership and upper management finally decided that it was time for a new direction. According to Ryan Rishaug, the Edmonton Oilers have fired Peter Chiarelli.

Can you remember the day when Peter Chiarelli was announced as the new General Manager and President of Hockey Operations? Do you remember how you felt? I remember thinking that the Oilers had just brought in a manager with experience and one that had won a Stanley Cup, and maybe, just maybe he could be the fresh set of eyes and ideas that the team needed to take the next step. Despite what I knew of his time in Boston, I remember being open to giving him a chance to succeed, thinking that there was no way he hadn’t learned from the mistakes that got him fired by the Bruins. Sure, I was nervous about the way he had traded Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin before they had really turned into anything yet and that those trades were disasters on his resume, but there was no way in hell that he’d be window-licking crazy enough to do that again. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so wrong.

Back in December, Jason Gregor wrote about Chiarelli’s work as GM and it seems fitting to revisit on the night he was fired.

On April 18th, 2015 the Edmonton Oilers organization won the 2015 draft lottery and, most importantly, the opportunity to draft Connor McDavid first overall.

Six days later Peter Chiarelli was hired and named President of Hockey Operations and General Manager. When he took the job Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and McDavid (essentially) were part of the team.

Then the collarbone injury happened.

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Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Connor McDavid’s now teammate, Brandon Manning (I still can’t believe that’s a real thing btw), hadn’t broken his collarbone, effectively ruining his rookie season. What could the Oilers have been like had their future captain been given more time in the lineup alongside Taylor Hall, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle? Would it have been enough to prevent the atrocities that were to come? Could they have gotten over the “culture issues” and made something of themselves? Did you know that the whole gang only got 32 games together in 2015-16 before Peter Chiarelli got to work dismantling the group? Less than half of a season. That’s all it took for him to decide that the players that were here weren’t good enough to win. It’s almost unbelievable to think back on.

NHL History: Edmonton Oilers sign Connor McDavid to eight-year contract three years ago today

Then again, we probably should have known better, shouldn’t we? On what was basically the most important day of his tenure as GM, Connor McDavid’s draft day, Peter Chiarelli ended up throwing a grenade at himself less than an hour after drafting the best player on the planet. After reading on a napkin on the flight into Edmonton that the Oilers needed help on defence, Peter Chiarelli pulled the trigger on a deal that sent the 16th and 33rd overall picks to the New York Islanders in exchange for Griffin Reinhart, a guy that’s currently playing in the AHL for the Golden Knights’ farm team. That trade was the first pinhole in the dinghy and one that we probably should have paid more attention to in hindsight. Had we not been blinded by the beauty of Connor McDavid in an Oilers jersey then maybe we could have done something sooner.

Dusty Nielson summed up that trade last week:

If a GM was ever going to be fired after making one trade this deal could have very much been the one. There aren’t many trades in the history of the National Hockey League where you immediately identify one team being fleeced, but this certainly fits the bill.

I don’t even care who the Oilers were or weren’t going to pick this was embarrassing from the beginning. I know everyone talks about Barzal but the real story is that the Oilers were also going to take Joel Eriksson Ek over the likes of Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot and Brock Boeser.

To think that the Griffin Reinhart trade was only the first of many horrible deals to follow, it’s hard to believe that he was able to last this long without anyone wrestling the keys away. From Taylor Hall to Jordan Eberle to Ryan Strome to Ryan Spooner to Drake Caggiula and every trade in between, it’s hard to imagine a scenario at the OEG offices where they looked at the sell-low deals that were going on and approving of both the direction and results. Then again, Bob Nicholson told us that Pete had a plan he believed in so maybe destroying their chances to win anything was all part of the blueprint. Maybe those ‘Chiarelli is a double agent’ theories aren’t so crazy after all? Of course, I’m kidding (or am I?) but it’s definitely going take some time to try and figure out how he got so far away from the original objective.

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Hunter vs Gritty on Robot Chicken

Do you remember his early to-do list?

Back to Gregor:

Chiarelli has the most dynamic player in the NHL. He didn’t need to add big names to the roster he inherited, he just needed to revamp it, but he hasn’t come close to making the rest of the roster any better than the one his predecessor, Craig MacTavish, built. The sad part for Oilersnation is I don’t see a quick fix coming. Unless McDavid, Draisaitl and RNH manage to carry the team on their back for 40 games, and play at an even higher level than they currently are, this team isn’t making the playoffs and they simply don’t have the depth to compete if they do make the postseason.

This isn’t the players’ fault. The GM’s job is to build the roster and make the team competitive. The results are proof Chiarelli has failed.

By almost every measure possible, Peter Chiarelli has failed in his role as GM of the Edmonton Oilers so it’s no surprise that he got fired because he certainly deserved to be. The only problem is that the organization waited this long to do it and I hope that it’s not too late. I don’t know why they thought giving him the playoffs as a finish line while maintaining the authority to make personnel decisions was a good idea, but we just went through two months of pointless trades that actually cost the team assets and cap space without making them any better. Now they’re strapped with even more dead weight on the roster for the next guy to fix, and just who that might be is a bridge we haven’t even begun to cross yet. Tomorrow, we can argue about what comes next but for now, we say goodbye to the man who will, in my opinion, go down as one of the worst general managers in franchise history. Tonight, we welcome the beginning of a new era.

So long, Peter, we probably won’t miss you, though, we do hope you get a new GM job somewhere else very soon.

Source: Ryan Rishaug, Verified Account, 1/23/2018 – 12:00 am MT

  • Derian Hatcher

    I hope at the availability some questions like these are asked:

    • Why did the executive wait so long to make this move when many would contend that there was ample evidence that this should have happened much earlier?

    • What would you response to those that say that it is the same people making the same decisions in the Oiler organization that have missed the playoffs 11 of the last 12 years?

    • Bob (nicks), it’s been reported that you will be taking a more active role in the hockey operations side of things. If so, could you outline what SPECIFIC qualifications do you have in talent evaluation, trades, development and cap management of and NHL hockey Club

    • There has been plan after plan after plan. It’s been reported that there were tickets available for $15 for last nights game. What will be done in the next 6 months to uplift fans confidence that things will turn around

    • Can you outline how the Koskinen extension, specifically the timing, was brought about, especially considering it was more than obvious that the GM was on very thin ice. More to the point, who made the decision on the timing, term and dollar amount for the contract. If it was a group decision, who are included in that group?

    Any of you suggest any other questions that should be asked? Not rude questions, not confrontational questions, but pointed, direct questions that deserve specific answers for the fans.

    • Anton CP

      I can give you a bs response from the ownership:

      “our staffs have faith in Mr. Chiarelli will be able to fix certain issues that we have from last season and bring us back into playoffs. It is with regret that ultimately we choose to part ways with Mr. Chiarelli due to the difference of philosophy of the team’s future progress. We wish Mr. Chiarelli luck on his future ventures.”

      “we can guaranteed you that our staffs have always working hard to deliever the best product on ice. With their knowledge and experiences in the hockey world that they are still able to provide their insights and expertise for a bright future.”

      “Mr. Katz offered me this prestigious position to oversee the entire OEG and I’m appreciate the trust of Mr. Katz given to me as the team will provide a great experience for all fans. It is unfortunate with many recent events that we missed a few good opportunities to advance further.:

      “we are ensuring that the entire OEG share the same frustrations of the team’s recent performances, however we are also promising the current and future staffs will always work hard on bring the Stanley Cup home once again.”

      “we have been talking to Mr. Chiarelli about the goaltending situation. We believed that extending Mr. Koskinen’s contract is the right choice. Koskinen has proven this season of his ability as a solid netminder and we believe that Koskinen will provide elite performances for the next three years.”

      You can ask as many questions as you want, but the answers will just be all over the place without getting into the point.

      • Derian Hatcher

        If that’s the case, it is up to those asking questions to press a little more. When players refuse to talk to the media, the media say that, by extension, the players are not talking to the fans as the media represent the fans in certain circumstances. Well, if that’s the case, I am confident that some in the media will press a little harder for non-canned responses as Gregor / Spec / Rishaug are more than aware of the frustration / anger of the fan base. A fan base that imo, has held up their end of the deal many times over. Just my opinion.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Hard to imagine now, but most of us – myself included – were DAMN excited when Pete was hired. Here was a GM that was FINALLY not a Boys on the Bus. Here was a GM that, although far from perfect, had real history of actually making BOLD moves instead of just talking about them (hi MacT). Here was a GM who had some experience.

    Most of us didn’t even mind that much that we had to forfeit a 2nd round pick (!!!) for him.

    Sigh. Didn’t last long. The Griffin Reinhart trade was pretty bad and the Taylor Hall trade, even with the 2017 playoff run, was unforgiveable.

  • SlovakOiler

    Today I cheered for a Wings win (how sad is that?) so the idiot doesn’t destroy the team any further in the BYE week. Thank goodness this was the last straw.
    Hopefully It can’t get any worse… but… it’s the Oilers 😉

  • Jofa

    Here’s a scary thought. What if Katz has been grooming his kid all these years to one day take over as GM. It might explain what he was doing at all those draft tables…

    I joke, but suppose anything’s possible in the OBC alternative universe.

  • Odanada

    KLowe, MacT and WG’s qualifications are that they drank from the Cup 30 years ago while wearing the Oiler blue. In their arrogance, they think they have some jedi-like “force” – with hunches and gut feelings about players and trades. It is absolutely ridiculous. The game has passed these guys by and they need to show their respect for the sweater by stepping down. It is the honourable thing to do.
    Scott Howson VP of player development? What player development? GONE
    Bob N. is a Hockey Canad guy with no experience making trades, dealing with contracts or the salary Cap. But he is a buddy of the OBC. “Forensic audit” is a buzzword used by a slick talker in over his head. GONE!
    They need younger managers that understand CORSI/stat analyses and that are ahead of the curve on emerging trends like “speed” over Chia’s 2011 “big and slow.”
    They need someone that understands that every penny counts towards the cap.
    The game and how it is managed has changed.
    The 80s Oilers are hopelessly mired in the past.

  • ellebee

    So, if the Oilers had managed to tie it up and squeak out a win in OT against the last place team would Pete be employed and working on more stellar deals this morning? Personally I think the real low point came when Spooner cleared waivers in the morning & had shifts on the 2nd line PP that night…

    • Anton CP

      I’m actually wondering, if Chiarelli just like every other former Oilers that somehow find successes elsewhere and build a contender with another franchise…what then?

        • Anton CP

          What record? Despite those New England whiners (New England fans are always whining even they have so many championships…) about the salary cap issues that they are still maintaining the core players that Chiarelli build for them. It is the question if Chiarelli was a terrible GM or he was actually handcuffed by OBC. So, if Chiarelli can find a successes on his next stop then the answer should be obvious but I guess that we have to wait and see.

  • nijames

    It is totally unfair to hang that Griffin Reinhart trade on PC. That has Liwe and McIdiot written all over it. We need more old Oil Kings on our roster Peter. Make the deal say McIdiot

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Why would any organization want this guy as their GM?

    I hope he never gets a job again u less it’s with Calgary. Would love to see Gaudreau get traded for someone who’s big and has a solid swagger/60.

    • Glencontrolurstik

      It would certainly be entertaining for the rest of the season…
      Some, might tune in to whats going on with the Oilers again actually.
      Not really a terrible idea n many levels, most of all media clicks. It is a business after all.

  • Derzie

    13 years.
    Over 1000 games.
    2 arenas.
    100s of players
    Several coaches
    Many GMs
    1 good season (lottery fuelled Connor-bump)

    “Finally, Chia is fired. Hooray!”

    Come on. The people in charge for those 13 years are still in charge, promoted even. The clock resets when they are all gone.

    The ONLY way that happens is if they collectively decide that honour & pride are more important than money & power. We know that the fans are too loyal & desperate to take away.

    The press conference today will be to placate the fanbase so that the money keeps rolling so that year 14 is right on track. Literally no end in sight. As abusive a situation as there can be. A fanbase held hostage by white-collar bandits too arrogant, dumb or both, to do the right thing.

    They are as bad at management as they were good at winning hockey in the 80’s. Hall of Fame worthy.

    • Gravis82

      we have 1/2 a team. That half is pretty darn good. The other 1/2 are not NHL players. 1/3 of that 1/2 can be found in free agency for reasonable deals. The rest must be drafted. We are 7 years away. Everyone will be in their prime and nuge will be 3rd line center. This is unfortunately where we are and we must accept it.

      oh wait…one problem. McDavid will reach free agency before then. Uh oh. As will Nuge.

      Oh shoot, another one. We have terrible contracts that will take 3 years to clear.

      Oh man, so we cant even sign some decent players in the interm? This is going to get worse before it gets better. Buckle up for another 10 year rebuild.

      If there is anyone but Yzerman leading this with everyone down to Hitch fired, it will fail.

      I suggest, just go find something else fun to do for a decade. Maybe even move to Winnipeg.


          • Harry2

            Listen, meathead. 7 years is an eternity in the NHL. In 7 years a kid who is in elementary school will be playing in the NHL. Bou hard will be 25. Draisaitl 30. And your telling me it will take 7 years?!

            Step back of the ledge. Go to bed

          • Anton CP

            Well, in a fantasy scenario, if the Oilers can cut out 20m in cap room then just dump gold bricks on Erik Karlsson…unrealistic yes…it is still some possible fantasy?

        • Gravis82

          how do you find 2 top pairing defensemen and a second line in less than 7 years?

          you just cant.

          Draft them all in the same year and your forwards will be mature and in their prime and your defensemen will just have arrived. Which wont happen. Hopefully Bouchard is one. So we still need one more, and three players who can score at least 20 goals

          Its not an eternity. Its how long it takes to draft and develop players.

          Sure we may be good prior to that, but we wont be a cup contender before that.

          There are too many holes on this team that need to be filled with drafted players, because the players we need are never traded by the teams that drafted them.

  • Marcus

    “But I really believe when I talk to Peter that he has a plan to get us back into the playoffs next season.

    I believe that Peter really thinks through everything he does. I really believe he understands where our gaps were this year (17-18). Making those changes aren’t easy. Peter Chiarelli has a very good relationship with other general managers in this league to make those trades than someone who doesn’t have those relationships.”

    – Bob Nicholson (April 12, 2018)

  • percy

    Bye Bye PC. Often wondered why everyone entering Edt had a smile on their face, time to take the sign down. This mess is going to take a few years to fix, better find a comfortable chair. Question is where do we start. IMO this team has always lacked a Vet DEF to stabilize our young def core, especially with Bouchard and Jones coming into the mix. Also a backup goalie. Both moves are a positive step. Shedding a few contracts and adding a winger or too down the road. Finding a better goalie coach should also be addressed.

  • Ben918

    THIS WAS LONG OVERDUE. They need to be creative to fix the problems Chia has left them with. I think this was too late, especially after the Kosk extension. If you are about to fire a GM, maybe stop him from giving a NTC and 4.5 mil to a guy that hasn’t even played half a year in the NHL and is already 30 yrs old.